With our wedding less than three weeks away, I thought I’d share bits and pieces of our atheist wedding ceremony! (I know that some of you have asked for suggestions for your own secular ceremonies.)
Our wedding is actually opening with a reading fromPale Blue Dotcombined with one of my favorite Sagan quotes at the end.
We succeeded in taking [a] picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
And forsmall creatures such as we, [this] vastness is bearable only through love.
Our vows are also secular:
I, Steven, take you Tiffany to be my wife, my partner in life, and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.
We even have a quote from Robert Green Ingersoll in our ceremony:
The reality is that everyone’s life is limited to only a certain amount of time. As Robert G. Ingersoll said, “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” Take the time to make your partner feel special. Never take each other for granted.
Take the time to listen and to share. Give each other the benefit of the doubt because communication will be different at times and misunderstandings are inevitable. It takes time, effort, courage, and commitment to make a successful marriage.
Take the time to negotiate, to talk about your fears, failures, and disappointments. Talk about each other’s expectations, hopes, and dreams. Be flexible and willing to adapt well to changes and new circumstances. Above all, take the time to tell each other what you want. Take the risk of being vulnerable with each other.
There is more to our ceremony, of course, but this is just a brief snapshot of what a secular ceremony looks like!